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Follow this link for a PDF of the Winter 2018/19 Newsletter.

Our newsletters are also available in Adobe PDF format. Visit the Adobe website to download an appropriate PDF Reader.

If you would like to be added to our newsletter email distribution list please email Angela McMenamy and we will let you know when the next issue is available to read.

Winter 2018/19

Lead Article

UNCRC Day of General Discussion

Our Centre for Children’s Rights (CCR) has established itself as the leading international research centre for children’s rights and participation.

Laura Lundy and Michelle Templeton co-ordinated children's participation at the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion (DGD) in Geneva in September on 'Children Human Rights Defenders'. DGDs occur every two years on key children’s rights issues and make recommendations to governments and others.

Our colleagues worked with Child Rights Connect and an international advisory group of 21 children who developed child-friendly materials and made the DGD the most participatory one ever: all sessions were co-moderated by children and there were child speakers at every session and interactive dialogue. The child advisors provided key insights on consulting with children across the world on their experiences as human rights defenders. This involved a partnership with global children’s organisations and reached almost 3000 children in 53 countries. The report of the global Children Human Rights Defenders consultations is available at

Other CCR activities include: a Council of Europe study of disabled children’s experience of their digital rights; consulting children in the five UN regions, with GlobalChild, to develop indicators for monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; Participation for Protection, a European Commission project developing training focused on what matters to children who have experienced violence; a world-wide consultation with children who have been deprived of their liberty, to inform a UN study.  Laura Lundy travelled to Taipei in September, to advise the government and politicians on involving children in public decision-making and train Taiwanese children’s rights organisations and policy makers on child participation.  Read more about CCR at

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Graduate Profile

Ryan Patterson

Tell us a little about yourself.

After successfully completing my A Levels at Omagh Academy, I studied Mathematics at undergraduate and then Master’s level at Queen’s University Belfast where I very much enjoyed the ‘university life’.  I then enrolled in the university’s PGCE Mathematics programme at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW).

Why did you choose this particular course?

I have a real passion and desire to work with young people.  Coupled with my lifelong love of Maths, this meant the PGCE was my obvious choice after graduation from my Master’s course at Queen’s. My decision to study at Queen’s was largely based on positive recommendations from friends who had already studied there.  Moreover, having been born without my right hand the additional support that Queen’s offered me was beyond anything I had expected.

What was your experience of the course?

As much as I enjoyed my years as an undergrad, my postgraduate experience on the PGCE has been, without doubt, my favourite year at university.  I had the opportunity to study alongside an incredible group of aspiring teachers who helped and encouraged each other through a very intense year of coursework and school experience.  My subject coordinator in SSESW went well beyond the call of duty, to be a constant source of experience, advice and support.  However, it was the opportunities offered through the teaching practice placements, getting into schools and interacting with their young people, that made the year so special. Finishing my PGCE year by winning two GTCNI STAR awards was an unexpected but equally tremendous way to end my time at Queen’s and boost my CV as I entered the professional world.

How did you find student life in Belfast?

Moving to Belfast was a big change for me, having grown up on a small farm in the County Tyrone village of Seskinore.  However, the university (and the city itself) offers so much that you can get involved in.  I have loved every minute of it and continue to enjoy life in Belfast’s university area as I begin my professional career.

Where are you in your career at the moment?

Just before the end of my PGCE training, and largely due to the support therein, I managed to secure a full-time permanent post at Belfast Royal Academy. I entered my early teaching career with equal amounts of apprehension and excitement.  I am very much enjoying getting to know and work with the school’s staff and students, hopefully having a positive impact on their lives at an academic and social level.

Follow this link for more information about the PGCE.

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social impact

Boosting literacy skills for children in care

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) colleagues Karen Winter and Jennifer Roberts worked with the University’s Widening Participation Unit (WPU) and the South Eastern Trust to develop a paired reading scheme to support P5 children in care in boosting their literacy skills. The scheme, called Reading Together, provides pupils with one-to-one support from a Queen’s student acting as a mentor.  Mentors were recruited via a Queen’s job site for students and interviewed by staff from WPU, the Trust and a Trust-based care-experienced intern. Successful applicants received training from Jennifer Roberts, who was a primary school teacher before joining SSESW.

Pupils were selected in close consultation with social workers, managers, foster carers and schools. The programme’s design and delivery, informed by Karen Winter (a qualified social worker with 16 years’ experience working with children in care), involved mentors meeting with the same child once weekly for eight weeks in schools throughout the spring semester 2018 and reading, playing games and chatting.

Children said they enjoyed the time spent with their mentor and, regarding their reading, one child said: ‘I love reading now. Love it. I want to see what happens at the end of the story.’

One student mentor commented on the role: ‘It was a joy to watch [the child] develop in literacy but, more significantly, in [their] appreciation of the books and their value.’

Commenting on the impact of the scheme on their perception of children in care, one mentor said: ‘They just want to be treated like everybody else. [The child] genuinely wanted to do well with reading, just like any other pupil would.’

With funding from Queen’s University, the South Eastern Trust and a benefactor in business, plans are underway to continue the scheme.

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Inequality, Education and the Working Classes

Our Sociology team hosted a seminar in September, on the theme of inequality, featuring the distinguished Sociologist of Education, Professor Diane Reay (now emerita) from the University of Cambridge. Her talk drew on material from her recent and well-received book Miseducation: Inequality, Education, and the Working Classes (ISBN 978-1447330653), which draws on over 500 qualitative interviews conducted over a number of years and has reignited academic, political and popular discussion around the issue.

The talk at Queen’s focused in particular on the emotional dynamics and consequences of class-based inequalities in education in the UK. Powerful and, at times, poignant, the seminar showcased the importance of Sociology, and the Sociological Imagination, for understanding and explaining how the structures and policies of today’s increasingly competitive educational regime may actually perpetuate and deepen, rather than ameliorate, social inequality, and how such structures are experienced as lived, felt, and embodied realities, particularly (but not only) by the working classes.

These emotional impacts (such as shame, anxiety, anger, lack of confidence) may have profound effects on children and young people, and their parents and families, not only in terms of their educational attainment, participation and aspirations, but at the deepest levels of their selves and psyches, their identities, sense of self and self-confidence.  

This hugely popular seminar packed out the beautiful Council Chamber at Queen’s University and brought together academics, professionals, practitioners, teachers, and students at all levels in areas such as education, health, youth agencies, social work, early years, widening participation and higher and further education.

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informing social policy

Supported Decision Making

The report of the Supported Decision Making Project was launched at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) on 29 June. The project was a collaboration between Praxis Care, Mencap and SSESW. It was funded through Disability Action as part of the Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) Programme. The project consulted people with mental health and learning difficulties on their experiences of decision making processes and the support that should be made available in the future.

The work aims to inform the Code of Practice for the new Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 which is to be implemented in 2020/21. The research project was led by Paul Webb, Research Manager at Praxis Care and Visiting Research Fellow at the School of SSESW, and included SSESW researcher Aisling McLaughlin and several colleagues from our Disability Research Network: Rebecca Irvine, Lorna Montgomery, Berni Kelly and Gavin Davidson.

The project was informed at key points by an international advisory group, including Dr Nancy Hansen (University of Manitoba).  One particularly successful aspect of this project was the role of four peer researchers (two with learning disabilities and two with experience of mental health problems) as part of the research team. The peer researchers were involved in all aspects of the research process including the presentation of the research as part of the Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series at the Northern Ireland Assembly and at the Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work Conference. The findings from this exploratory, qualitative study will inform the development of a training intervention for those who may be supporting people to make their own decisions. Follow this link to access the full report.

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new postgraduate degree

MSc Higher Education

In January 2019, our new MSc Higher Education will engage its first intake of local and international participants with the diverse challenges and growing opportunities in higher education globally by conducting research, implementing strategies and evaluating innovations.

Coordinated by SSESW academic Dina Belluigi, this three year, part-time, blended programme aims to foster a learning culture of leadership and development for both institutional enhancement and the professional advancement of those supporting and driving academic matters. Focal areas include transformation, access, quality and the digital in higher education.

A unique feature is its emphasis on relationship between the areas of educational development and scholarship for all those working in higher education, from policy-makers to academic staff, managers, officers, advisers and evaluators of institutions, non-profit organisations and governmental agencies concerned with learning, research and civic engagement in higher education.

This qualification aims to strongly position participants to take the lead in discussions about issues impacted by the local and global in higher education, and to model excellence by showcasing innovative and enhanced strategies and policies using rigorous and valid evidence-based practices.

Follow this link for more information about the MSc in Higher Education.

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New BA degree options

Q-Step: a step-change in quantitative social science skills

Our new Quantitative Methods Exit Pathway is designed to give students skills and training that will give them a head start in the employment market. The new pathway is available on our BA degree programmes (Criminology single honours, Sociology single honours, Criminology and Sociology joint and both our Social Policy joints degrees).

In an increasingly technologically advanced society gathering large amounts of data about how people think and act, and providing illuminating and practical information about how the social world works, employers need staff who can analyse and apply social data to solve real world problems. There is a shortage of and growing demand for university graduates who can apply these skills to topics such as health behaviours, online dating, criminal activities and many others. Our social sciences programme and new exit pathway focus on working with and interpreting quantitative data, with a strong emphasis on applying a social science framework in practical ways.

The programme is designed to maximise student choice by allowing students to try a range of classes without committing to a particular degree.  To action the Quantitative Methods Exit Pathway students simply take the required number of modules offered in year 2 and year 3 of the Criminology, Sociology or Social Policy degree. This allows the degree to be named at graduation as a BSc (degree) with Quantitative Methods, clearly indicating to employers the additional skills and expertise embedded in the degree.

Follow this link for more information about the Exit pathways and Q-Step.

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Staff Profile

Laura Dunne

Dr Laura Dunne is a Chartered Psychologist and a Senior Lecturer in Education.  She is our Research Impact and Public Engagement Champion.  She tweets at @LauraDunne_QUB.

I am a Fellow of our Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation and the UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health, based at Queen’s University.  I began my research career as a psychologist but now consider myself, in broader terms, a social scientist.  My research interests lie in three main areas: child health and wellbeing; early child development; and programme evaluation.  My research informs my teaching.  I teach at Doctoral level on Early Child Development and at Master’s level on Assessment Issues in Teaching and Learning in Classrooms.

Through my varied interdisciplinary experiences over the last fifteen years, I became interested in taking a more holistic view of the child, conducting both quantitative and qualitative research to best answer the research questions in hand.  I have a particularly strong relationship with colleagues in Public Health at Queen’s and have learned much from them in terms of extending my theoretical and methodological view.

I am interested in generating evidence about what works for children and young people.  To this end, I have conducted a number of randomised controlled trials of school and community-based programmes over the last ten years.

Most recently, I have been privileged to be on the core management team of the LINKS global research network, funded by the National Institute of Health Research and led by Professor Paul Connolly (Queen’s University).  This work explores the potential of early childhood development programmes for social cohesion and peacebuilding in six low and middle-income countries affected by conflict.  To develop and evaluate programmes we work closely with research teams and UNICEF offices in Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The Queen’s team also works alongside our strategic partners: UNICEF, Harvard, Yale, NYU and Early Years Northern Ireland.  This project has awakened an earlier interest in anthropology and makes use of my skills in education, psychology and public health.

I am always keen to take on new administrative challenges and led the School of SSESW to win its first Athena SWAN Bronze award in 2016.  In my current role as Research Impact and Public Engagement Champion, I am excited to learn more about how our work can make a real difference in improving outcomes across society.

One of my favourite aspects of my work is supervising doctoral students.  I really enjoy embarking on the journey together and watching the research, and the student, grow and develop.


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Sociology of Emotions

The present day can seem like the ‘age of emotions’, given the increased importance of emotion to all aspects of our personal and professional lives. An international conference in August on the Sociology of Emotions looked at this topic in various ways, from the emotional politics of Trump and the rise of populism across Europe, to the emotional experiences of unemployment; from the role of shame, anger and inequality in young men’s accounts of self-harm and suicide, to an analysis of the emotional assumptions and dimensions of primary school mindfulness programmes in the UK (such as ‘Paws B’).

Conference panels covered themes such as: emotions, power and the state; the digital sociology of emotions; emotional inequalities; migration, asylum and emotion; and emotions in family and intimate relations.

The conference was co-organized by School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) academic Jonathan Heaney, who chairs the European Sociological Association’s Sociology of Emotions Research Network (RN11) and the newly re-formed British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Emotions Study Group. It was hosted at the University of Edinburgh and included a one-day workshop for PhD students from across Europe (including one from SSESW), who also had the opportunity to present their work at the main conference.

The conference featured leading emotion scholars from within and beyond Europe, including the UK, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Turkey, Hungry, Latvia, the USA and Australia. More than 70 delegates heard keynotes from Professor Ian Burkitt (Bradford) on the reflexive and emotional self, and Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (Cardiff) on the emotional politics of Donald Trump. Further details are available at

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Student Commendation

Global Undergraduate Awards

For the second year in a row, an SSESW undergraduate student has been Highly Commended in The Global Undergraduate Awards (UA), the world’s largest academic awards programme identifying leading creative thinkers and problem-solvers through their undergraduate coursework.

Angela Rogan‘s paper, A Fusion of Feminism and Foucault to Fight Pharmaceutical Crime, was assessed by an international panel of expert judges from world leading academic institutions.  It was ranked in the top 10% of 4,887 submissions from over 300 global universities.

UA provides top performing students with support and opportunities to raise their profiles at a summit in Dublin where they can network with world-renowned speakers, academics and potential employers and attend workshops designed to help them share research and begin their path after undergraduate study.

Speaking of her UA commendation, Angela said: ‘It’s a fantastic experience to be highly commended.  I am excited about the summit, where I hope to expand my knowledge across multiple disciplines in conjunction with discussing my own areas of study within Criminology and Sociology.  For me this represents a perfect boost for this academic year.’

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Research Impact

Centre for Behaviour Analysis

  • The Centre had a vibrant presence at the European Association for Behaviour Analysis (EABA) conference in Germany in September. Catherine Storey presented on early reading programmes with colleagues from Ulster University and Bangor University. Katerina Dounavi was part of team presenting on ‘Organizational performance standards in special education units for ASD: The development and piloting of an assessment tool’.  Doctoral students Amy Tanner, Jenny Ferguson, Emma Craig and Elena Cló presented on a broad range of topics.  PhD student Nicole Pfaller was awarded the prestigious BF Skinner Foundation Award by Professor Erik Arntzen, EABA President.

A conference reunion of current and former students attracted interest from potential Master’s and PhD students as they marked the success of our vibrant research and teaching programme that contributes to quality behaviour analytic research and services with an international impact.

  • PhD students Jenny Ferguson and Emma Craig, with supervisor Katerina Dounavi, published a systematic literature review in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders on delivery, to professionals and families of individuals with autism, of behaviour analytic interventions through telehealth i.e. the use of technology for remote training and supervision.

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Research Impact

Centre for Children's Rights

  • The Centre was delighted to host Mikiko Otani, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. During her visit in October, Mikiko gave a presentation on children as human rights defenders.
  • Claire Dwyer, Siobhan McAlister and Mary-Louise Corr have received funding from the Commission for Victims and Survivors to explore the transgenerational legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict. The project adopts a child-rights based approach to examining the legacies of the conflict, and their impacts, on children and young people in Northern Ireland and the border regions of Ireland.

  • The Centre hosted the 6th Children’s Rights Research Symposium for doctoral researchers and their supervisors on 4-5 October on the theme Children’s Rights: theories and methodologies.
  • Doctoral student Amy Brown presented her study on silence and voice in education at the European Educational Research Association Conference in Bolzano, Italy, in September.
  • Laura Lundy and Bronagh Byrne gave invited presentations at the annual Children’s Human Rights Summer School at Swansea University in September. Laura’s focus was on the participation rights of children and young people while Bronagh spoke about the participation rights of disabled children and young people.

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Research Impact

Disability Research Network

The Disability Research Network (DRN) continues to work on a range of research projects ranging from access to justice for deaf people to supporting people with learning disabilities who have experienced sexual violence and supporting people with mental health problems to get involved in physical activity.

Bronagh Byrne was part of an invited panel at Stormont Buildings in June. The Expert Panel Discussion on Special Educational Needs was organised by the All Party Groups on Children and Young People, Disability and Learning Disability and discussed ongoing challenges in the area around the role of special schools, funding cuts, and transitions.

In June, Berni Kelly gave a key note presentation at annual UK conference of the Disabled Children’s Research Network at the University of Nottingham on the theme of Safeguarding Disabled Children and Young People. Key themes arising from the conference include the need for greater co-operation across child and disability services, more early intervention services and practice tools for assessing the complexities of risks for disabled children.

In September, Berni Kelly presented at the CoramBAAF Practice Forum on Foster Care and Adoption for Disabled Children. The presentation highlighted concerns about the over-representation of disabled children in the care system and the need for more family-based placements offering permanency.  Practice developments in this area include alternative approaches to recruiting adopters for disabled children and greater use of social media. The Practice Forum is also supportive of more research on motivation for fostering and adopting disabled children and how best to promote permanency and post-adoption support services to meet both child and carer needs.

In October, Bronagh Byrne gave a keynote presentation at the launch of the Children and Young People’s Plan for the Donegal Children and Young People’s Services Committee. Bronagh presented on the theme Reimagining Disability - from accepting diversity to true inclusion.

The DRN had a very productive conference season.

  • Bronagh Byrne presented a paper entitled ‘Rights in the Digital Environment: The Views of Disabled Children and Young People’ at the Lancaster Disability Studies conference.
  • Doctoral student David Jackson-Perry presented at the same conference on ‘Not doing it properly? Tracking assumptions of healthy couple intimacy through an exploration of narratives of ‘non-sociable’ autistic sexualities’. 
  • Doctoral student Gillian Curran presented a poster at the 10th All Ireland Doctoral Conference at Queen’s University on ‘Missing Voices: The Educational Experiences of girls with Asperger Syndrome.’

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Supporting and Celebrating Language Learning

Our Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT) is funded by the Department of Education to enhance and support language teaching and learning in Northern Ireland. 

On 26 September NICILT celebrated European Day of Languages (EDL) by attending colourful events in Mount Lourdes Grammar School and Erne Integrated College in Enniskillen where they delivered language workshops to 120 pupils. NICILT is the EDL relay for Northern Ireland schools and this year dispatched resource packs to language teachers containing over 2000 wristbands, pencils and stickers.

The NICILT colleagues were also delighted to be invited to address a colourful EDL assembly (left) at Botanic Primary School where they were greeted by Primary 2 pupils singing songs and saying hello in their native languages.

NICILT were invited to outline their work at a Welcome and Induction Day for incoming Modern Language Assistants. They also gave a presentation to our new cohort of Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students and introduced PGCE Modern Language students to the NICILT resource centre and facilities.   

In November, NICILT will host two film days for A-level pupils at Queen’s Film Theatre.  The films, shown in Spanish and German, will be followed by interactive workshops delivered by lecturers from Queen’s University and University College Dublin, the aim of which is to enhance students’ understanding of the language and themes.  NICILT are running several Languages and Employability workshops forYear 10 pupils, before they make their GCSE choices, to highlight how learning a language helps develop important life skills which can boost career options and employability.

Follow this link for more information on NICILT.

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Lead Article

Centre for Shared Education

In October, Joanne Hughes and Rebecca Loader from our Centre for Shared Education (CSE) travelled to Israel to meet colleagues involved in shared education in the region.  During their visit, they met a group of teachers who are embarking on shared education as part of a project coordinated by the Abraham Fund, an NGO dedicated to peacebuilding.  Inspired by the experience of Northern Ireland schools, the Shared Learning Programme involves 15 partnerships of Arab and Jewish schools.

Through the programme, teachers and pupils from each partnership come together for 8-10 joint classes with a mutually agreed curriculum focus.  These classes are team-taught by Arab and Jewish teachers and alternate in location between the two schools.  Joanne and Rebecca gave a presentation to the group of teachers outlining the development of shared education in Northern Ireland, research into its implementation and impact, and the CSE colleagues’ experience of introducing such initiatives to other countries, including the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Joanne and Rebecca also met Dr Dafna Yitzhaki from Tel Aviv University and Dr Shany Payes and Myriam Darmoni Shabit from the Centre for Educational Technology (CET) in Tel Aviv, who are leading a project to promote the shared teaching of English between Arab and Jewish schools.  Our Centre for Shared Education colleagues had an opportunity to speak to teachers involved in this project, as well as to discuss with academic contacts plans for joint research in this area.  CET and the Abraham Fund have been awarded a grant for $1 million from USAID to progress shared education in Israel, and the Centre for Shared Education looks forward to working with and learning from them as they develop this important work.

For more information contact
Dr Rebecca Loader at or tel +44 (0)28 9097 1363

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Staff Profile

Shadd Maruna

Shadd Maruna is the new Professor of Criminology at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW).  He tweets at @criminology.

I was delighted to return to Queen’s University to join SSESW in August 2017.  With its array of complementary academic fields, the School nicely captures my own decidedly cross-disciplinary (some would say ‘mongrel’) academic pedigree and orientation.

Having previously studied undergraduate philosophy and English literature at Illinois State University (on the grounds that I never wanted to have to do a proper job), I eventually found my way into postgraduate training in something called ‘Human Development and Social Policy’ in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University (Chicago, USA).  Something about that long-winded and ambitious-sounding course name appealed to my academic insatiability and unwillingness to settle down and commit myself to a single academic discipline or approach.

However, on completing a PhD on the role of the criminal justice system in the transition from adolescence into adulthood, I soon found an academic home in criminology, a field that was famous for welcoming interdisciplinarity - drawing on sociology, law, psychology, social work, medicine and much more.  Criminology has been good to me and afforded me some remarkable opportunities at previous universities like Cambridge, Manchester and the State University of New York.  I was, briefly, the Dean of the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, one of America’s oldest and largest criminology programmes.  My book Making Good was awarded a major book prize from the American Society of Criminology.  I am one of the three editors of the Oxford Handbook of Criminology, sometimes called the ‘bible’ of UK criminology.  I am primarily interested in real world engagement (public criminology) and my work with ex-prisoner organisations has been recognised with impact prizes from the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Economic and Social Research Council.

However, in order to retain its vibrancy as a ‘rendezvous discipline’, it is important that criminology not allow itself to become too insular and isolated.  As such, I am delighted to be working with our outstanding SSESW criminology team that is very much integrated into our wider group of social scientists, social workers and educationalists.  I am biased, but I would argue that the questions we ask in criminology – about the aetiology of criminal involvement or the role of state actions in perpetuating this criminality – can only be understood if they are situated in the wider sciences of human development and social policy, each of which themselves draw on the tools and theories of sociology, biology, economics, politics, history and much more.  As such, I look forward to continuing to learn from my colleagues at SSESW.

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Prestigious University Teaching Award

Katerina Dounavi

A Queen’s University Teaching Award 2018 was presented to School of SSESW academic Katerina Dounavi, Director of our very popular Master’s in Applied Behaviour Analysis.  The Queen’s Teaching Awards Scheme encourages and rewards the development of learning and teaching practice that has led to particularly effective and worthwhile learning.

Her award, in the Rising Stars Category, recognises Katerina’s work in ‘delivering the MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) programme, predominantly online, through an innovative blended learning approach. The programme delivery provides her students with an enriching learning experience and increases their employability through access to professional certification. Dr Dounavi’s programme presents her students with a challenging learning environment in which appropriate support is embedded to enable them to succeed.’

Follow this link to read more about Katerina’s teaching and research.

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informing social policy

Engaging Students in Anti-Poverty Practice Framework

As part of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October), the School hosted a seminar at Queen’s University which was organised in partnership with the Department of Health (DoH).  The focus of the event was to present the Anti-Poverty Practice Framework for Social Work in Northern Ireland to students on our Social Work degree programme.  The event gave students a chance to engage with policy makers and academics alike, in a community of active learners. 

The event marks a continuation of the close relationship social work at Queen’s has with policy makers. Facilitated by SSESW academic Paul McCafferty, the event included a presentation about the Framework by Sean Holland (Chief Social Work Officer: DoH).  Sean’s key point was that social workers must practice in a manner that embraces the values of social justice and inclusion.  By practicing in this way, Sean feels that social workers can engage more collaboratively with those in poverty and therefore practice in a more nuanced and empathic manner.

Other speakers included Aine Morrison (Professional Officer: DoH), who talked in detail about the Framework’s implications for social work practice.  Aine engaged students in a participatory workshop to develop a deeper understanding of practice issues in relation to poverty.  Building on this, the students then developed a set of pledges, which they hope to develop practically during their practice placements. 

SSESW academic Lisa Bunting also presented her findings from The Child Welfare Inequalities Project.  This key piece of research has informed the Anti-Poverty Practice Framework for Social Work in Northern Ireland.  Other SSESW colleagues involved in this research included Gavin Davidson and Claire McCartan. 

Download a PDF of the Framework.

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PGCE Partnerhship Schools

Our strong relationship with schools in Northern Ireland is at the core of the continued success of our Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). In order to give PGCE students the training necessary to become competent teachers, we rely on partnership schools to host them on extended teaching practice placements. These placements allow students to experience real life in a school and to learn from experts in the classroom.

The dedication and hard work of the teacher tutors lead to effective placements and ensure that PGCE students graduate with sound subject knowledge and real world experience in the teaching profession.

Joanne Montgomery from Ballyclare High School said of the partnership teacher training model: ‘At Ballyclare High we value the professional development of placement students.  To ease the transition of putting theory into practice we have a support network which groups Student Teachers with our Beginning Teachers, to offer relevant training opportunities.’

PGCE students report that they value enormously the skills, confidence and expertise they gain in schools. They find their extended teaching practice placements fulfilling and rewarding, especially since host schools often seek new recruits from the graduating PGCE cohort to join their staff.  Jennifer Roberts, Deputy Director of the PGCE course, said: ‘We are very lucky to work alongside some of the best teachers and schools in Northern Ireland to ensure our beginning teachers are well equipped for the teaching profession. We really value the collaboration between SSESW and the host schools and the expertise they bring to the programme.’

For more information about our PGCE programme or the role of partnership schools, please see or contact Jennifer Roberts ( or James Nelson (

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student achievement

Presentation of PGCE Certificates and Prizes

One of our academic year highlights, the Presentation of Certificates and Awards for our Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students, took place at the University’s beautiful Riddel Hall in August.  An evening of celebration marked another very successful PGCE year and launched the careers of these beginning teachers who will make a big impact on the education community.

This annual presentation recognises the dedication and enthusiasm that PGCE students invest in their time at Queen’s and in their teaching practice placements in schools around Northern Ireland.  The graduates were addressed by Professor Carl Bagley, our Head of School (back row, second left), whose words of encouragement included a reminder to the new teachers to continue investing in their professional development with further studies at higher degree level.

Guest speaker for the event was retiring principal of Hazelwood Integrated College, Kathleen O’Hare (front row, right), who inspired the PGCE graduates with welcome insight from her many years of experience in different education roles.

Gerry Devlin, Senior Education Officer at the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI), presented both of the prestigious GTCNI STAR awards to PGCE Mathematics graduate Ryan Patterson (back row, left) who has taken up a teaching post at Belfast Royal Academy.

The School prizes were awarded by outgoing PGCE Director, Alison MacKenzie:

  • The Elizabeth M Fulton prize for the top student in each subject: Ryan Patterson (Mathematics), Patrick McAnea (English), Lisa McDonough (RE), James Butler (IT), Sarah Hodgett (Social Science), Ashton Turner (Modern Languages) and Kate Cameron (Science).
  • Excellence in Teaching prize: Jennifer Johnston (Social Science) (front row, second left).

Follow this link for more information on our PGCE.

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International Links for Technology-Enhanced Learning

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) academic Pamela Cowan (second left), Convenor for our PGCE in Computing and ICT, hosted a group of Japanese professors who visited Northern Ireland in September to experience other educational systems, with a particular interest in technology-enhanced learning, active learning in classrooms, programming across compulsory education and robotics in third level education settings.

The Japanese group (L-R Professor Matsumoto, Professor Okazaki and Professor Naruse) also have links to Northern Ireland through the South Eastern Regional College and the Education and Training Inspectorate however they wanted to extend their partnerships with Northern Ireland by linking up with Pamela Cowan to include the higher education perspective of innovative technologies for teacher education.

Northern Ireland schools are recognised leaders in the area of technology-enhanced learning so the visitors spent time at two of our partnership schools, Ballyclare High and Ballyclare Secondary schools, to view innovative teaching practices underway in the classroom.  Of particular interest to the Japanese visitors was the fact that Ballyclare High is one of three schools in Northern Ireland that have recently achieved prestigious Digital Schoolhouse status.

With appropriate funding secured from their government the Japanese visitors hope to facilitate annual visits for their teachers enrolled on their Master’s in Educational Technology programmes, to extend the sharing of expertise between Japan and Northern Ireland.

As a follow up to this year’s visit by the professors at the University of Toyama, SSESW will be co-hosting the 3rd ESTEL Conference on Teaching and Learning comprising virtual presentations from invited staff at SSESW and key universities in Japan.

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improving practice

Connecting Local and Global Expertise

In addition to our wide ranging seminar series, (see School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) colleagues lead important network activities in their respective fields, contributing to improving practice in local and global arenas.  The following are a sample of just a few activities over recent months:

  • SSESW colleagues welcomed to Queen’s University nearly 50 delegates (pictured) from the Department for Communities (DfC, Belfast) and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP, Dublin) for a very successful annual Social Welfare Summer School.

The week-long residential event in August is a joint initiative between DfC and DEASP, alternating annually between Belfast and Dublin. This year’s summer school was entitled 'Welfare, Work and Well-Being: Challenges for the 21st Century'. At various locations across Queen’s, the event's extensive programme connected staff from both departments, and other related bodies, and facilitated important discussion on social policy issues and sharing of best practice.

  • Criminology colleagues Michelle Butler, Shadd Maruna and Siobhan McAlister presented at the European Society of Criminology Conference in Sarajevo in August. The conference theme was 'Crimes Against Humans and Crimes Against Humanity'. The team gave papers on topics including: comparative youth justice; the minimum age of criminal responsibility; employment and reintegration; imprisonment.
  • As part of a research project funded by the Society for Research into Higher Education and supported by the Malaysian Educational Technology Association, Ibrar Bhatt visited Malaysia in September to give several guest lectures and meet with potential collaborators for further research, to extend the parameters of the project globally. His project examines the digital literacies of undergraduate students in different disciplines and how they deploy campus technologies, produce knowledge through written work, and discern the quality of information online.
  • A paper presented by Catherine Storey at this year’s British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference in Newcastle was nominated for a prestigious BERA award.  Entitled ‘The Impact of Gamified Literacy Instruction for Children Receiving Specialist Literacy Support’, her paper was nominated for the 2018 Best EdTech Paper Award.
  • Shared Education colleagues Tony Gallagher, Gavin Duffy and Gareth Robinson visited Lebanon during Shared Education week (8–12 October) to highlight how education is used as a mechanism for transformative change in conflict-affected societies. They were accompanied by a group of teachers and education officials from Northern Ireland, who participated in a series of workshops with their counterparts in Lebanon to exchange ideas around teaching history and citizenship in divided societies.  A follow-up workshop series will be hosted at Queen’s University Belfast in February 2019.
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ESRC Festival Climate Change Event

ESRC Festival Climate Change Event

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, SSESW colleague Amanda Slevin hosted a public event at Queen’s University on 7 November entitled ‘Climate Change: How do we respond?’. In addition to Amanda Slevin pointing out how fossil fuel dependent our societies are, the event featured interdisciplinary inputs from Kevin Leyden (NUI Galway), John Barry (HAPP, QUB) and Peter Doran (Law, QUB). 

Climate change and associated consequences are some of the biggest challenges our society faces.  This event created a space for an interactive public discussion on these issues, with great audience engagement and energising discussions. 

Follow this link to read more about Amanda’s publications and research.

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Summer 2018

Lead Article

Enhancing Child-Centred Approaches to Protecting Children

Our Centre for Children’s Rights has been awarded funding from the European Commission to lead a project aimed at enhancing child-centred approaches to victims of violence, and raising children’s understanding of reporting mechanisms and support structures.

Participation for Protection’ (P4P), led by SSESW academic Siobhán McAlister, involves partners from Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Romania and the UK. It adopts a child rights-based approach to developing training and resources for children and young people, and those working with and for them.

Two children and young people’s advisory groups based in Belfast (St Ita’s Primary School and Include Youth) are informing key aspects of the project. This includes: the design of consultation tools for use with children across the partner countries; the information to be provided to children; training resources for professionals; and a multi-media resource for children and young people.

Over two years the project will consult with over 1000 children and young people across the partner countries on the theme ‘what makes good support and service responses?’.

This consultation includes school children and specific groups at risk of violence, or already experiencing violence, including: children in care, children in detention/in conflict with the law, Roma children, children living in high conflict communities, child migrants and refugees, and child victims of domestic violence.

As part of the consultation stage, the P4P project team is looking for two P6 or P7 classes and two year 10 or year 11 classes by the end of May, to help run a survey. If you can help, please contact Siobhán McAlister.

For more information contact
Email Dr Siobhán McAlister  tel +44 (0)2890975918 or visit the project website.

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Graduate Profile

Anna Savage

Tell us a little about yourself
I graduated with a BA in Sociology in 2017.  I am currently working for the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency as a Statistical Officer.

Why did you choose this particular programme?
I chose the BA Sociology as I was good at A-Level Sociology.  More importantly, I was totally captivated by the subject and it made me question basic concepts like gender and religion that most people take for granted.  My teachers at Down High School were extremely supportive and encouraged my learning.  I knew I wanted to further my sociological studies and, from a young age, I wanted to study at Queen's University.

What did you enjoy about the course?
Overall the course was interesting and challenging.  I enjoyed the pace of the course.  First year was a more in depth look into concepts I studied for A-Level.  Having this background knowledge helped me to keep up with introductory modules, whilst allowing me to settle into university life and learn the ropes!  I actually enjoyed writing my dissertation and I was proud of myself for having written my own high quality piece of work.  The dissertation also sparked my interest in quantitative research methods, which helped me get the job I am in now.

What was your experience of the facilities at Queen’s University?
Before starting university I expected it to be very different from school, not only as a learning environment but in a support capacity too. I thought pastoral care was not a feature of the university experience, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. My personal tutor provided emotional as well as academic support.

What did you enjoy about the course?
Overall the course was interesting and challenging. I enjoyed the pace of the course. First year was a more in-depth look into concepts I studied for A-Level. Having this background knowledge helped me to keep up with introductory modules, whilst allowing me to settle into university life and learn the ropes! I actually enjoyed writing my dissertation and I was proud of myself for having written my own high quality piece of work. The dissertation also sparked my interest in quantitative research methods, which helped me get the job I am in now.

How did you find the student experience?
This goes out to all prospective students and current students – enjoy the university experience! Join all the clubs, get involved in as much as possible and push yourself to go outside your comfort zone. I was the Vice Chair of the Mind Your Mood mental health campaign at Queen’s, and it felt so good to be making a difference and promoting positive mental health around campus. I only wish I had got involved in more clubs and societies sooner. I used to be a little timid but I gained skills and confidence at university and now I don’t shy away from taking on a new challenge. Make the most out of Queen’s!

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New International Summer School

The School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work is hosting a brand new International Summer School: Education for Transformation.  It is one of only three distinctively tailored programmes running for four weeks this summer at Queen’s, designed to inspire students from around the world to view learning as a catalyst for transformation.

Drawing on experiences and research within Northern Ireland, the UK and from around the world, our academics will provide students with a unique opportunity to study a society emerging from conflict and a chance to learn about its many distinct school sectors, including faith schools, Irish language schools, religiously integrated schools and schools involved in the internationally renowned Shared Education Programme.

Over four weeks students will attend lectures on Education through Evidence and Social Innovation, Education Studies and Leadership and will participate in sessions on Curriculum in Divided and Conflict-Affected Societies.

Having welcomed students from around the world to previous summers schools at Queen’s, Claire McLoughlin, International Summer Schools and Study Abroad Coordinator, is looking forward to the new Education for Transformation Summer School and the positive impact it can have on students:

‘Never underestimate the power of a summer abroad experience to light a fire of inspiration.  The highlight for me is seeing the personal development of our students over the four weeks and also seeing their delight at the opportunity to apply their learning in the classroom, outside the classroom, with a range of historical and cultural field trips.’

The Education for Transformation International Summer School runs from 25 June-20 July 2018. 

For more information contact    

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conference - peace and beyond

Peacebuilding and Reconciliation

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Peace Agreement and to encourage new thinking and research in peacebuilding and reconciliation, the British Council ran a conference in Belfast on 10-12 April entitled Peace and Beyond.  Over 200 international delegates attended a programme of events across seven locations in Belfast with input from multiple organisations, a range of themes and numerous international speakers.

Presentations from the Northern Ireland perspective involved individuals who have been prominent in peacebuilding in Northern Ireland and internationally, including Senator George Mitchell and Professor Monica McWilliams.

Professor Joanne Hughes, Director of our Centre for Shared Education, chaired a conference session at Titanic Belfast on the inter-generational impact of conflict.  Her session explored the effects of conflict on a new generation of young people, particularly those born in the years after ceasefire and peace agreements.  Panellists included those who had personal and professional experiences of the conflict in South Africa, Lebanon and Northern Ireland.

Key themes that emerged during the session related to the relationship between disadvantage, marginalisation and the ongoing impact of conflict, and the need to find creative and constructive ways to tackle the negative legacies of the past which are manifest in risk behaviours such as substance abuse and anti-social behaviour, mental health issues, high levels of suicide and ongoing low-level sectarianism.

For more information email Professor Joanne Hughes or tel +44(0)2890975934

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Innovative New Book

Social Work Education

SSESW colleague Joe Duffy co-edited a new book entitled Service User Involvement in Social Work Education with a team comprising academics and service user experienced colleagues.  Launched in March this year, this Routledge published book contains a special collection of contributions from Australia, Israel, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden, as well as all four nations of the United Kingdom. 

Its chapters offer important examples of how service user involvement has been approached in the international context of social work education.  It is the first time that a collection has been solely dedicated to this particular focus.  Many contributions in the book are jointly written with service users and carers, highlighting the innovative practices which challenge social work academics, students, social workers and managers to think how all can benefit from learning with, and from, service users and carers.   

Service User Involvement in Social Work Education     ISBN-10 0815378300

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UNESCO in Northern Ireland

Colloquium at Queen's University

In January, representatives from UNESCO sites and projects across the UK gathered at a reception at Queen’s University to celebrate the work of UNESCO in Northern Ireland and to highlight the region’s two UNESCO Chairs, one of whom is SSESW academic Professor Joanne Hughes.  Joanne, who is also the Director of our Centre for Shared Education, was awarded UNESCO’s first Chair in Globalising a Shared Education Model for Improving Relations in Divided Societies in 2016. 

Through a programme of research and collaboration around shared education with international stakeholders and partner institutions, the objective of this role is to promote intergroup contact and intercultural dialogue in education, thereby contributing to peacebuilding.

Following on from the reception, Queen's hosted a colloquium at its Riddel Hall complex where UNESCO Chairs from across the UK and Ireland, along with colleagues from UNESCO's UK National Commission, explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals and related policy issues.  This colloquium also provided an opportunity for Chairs to exchange best practice and learn about Northern Ireland’s world-leading research on education, peacebuilding and human rights.  The UNESCO colleagues considered the colloquium to be a huge success.  Participants were extremely complimentary about the welcome and facilities they experienced at Queen's University and looked forward to future opportunities to return to Northern Ireland.

For more information email Professor Joanne Hughes or tel +44 (0)28 9097 5934 or see the video at

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Disability Research

DRILL Grants Success

The Disability Research Network at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) is delighted to be involved in three grant award successes in Northern Ireland as part of the DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, a £5 million scheme led by people with disabilities and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

More than £1 million has been awarded to 10 new research and pilot projects across the UK, of which £450,000 has been allocated to three projects in Northern Ireland involving SSESW colleagues.  Each research or pilot project will be led by people with disabilities or long term health conditions.  They will be developing approaches and questions, working alongside academics and policy makers.  The projects involving our colleagues are:

  • The Mental Health Foundation has been awarded £149,657 for their pilot project on supporting people with mental health problems to get involved in physical activity.  They will work in partnership with South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust alongside SSESW colleagues Gavin Davidson and Paul Best.
  • The British Deaf Association has been awarded £149,947 and will explore access to justice for deaf people, working in collaboration with SSESW academic lead Bronagh Byrne and with Syracuse University College of Law and Rowan University (both USA).
  • Positive Futures has been awarded £149,997 for their project on supporting people with learning disabilities who have experienced violence.  Positive Futures is working in collaboration with SSESW colleagues Berni Kelly and Rebecca Irvine and with the Public Prosecution Service, Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Nexus NI.

Our Disability Research Network is a multi-disciplinary initiative aimed at enhancing collaboration between academics, policymakers, practitioners and community and voluntary sector organisations with an interest in disability studies and research.  It provides unique opportunities for members to share knowledge and disseminate a growing body of disability research, stimulate debate about disability issues and develop collaborative partnerships for future disability research and further development of disability policy and practice.

For more information email Dr Bronagh Byrne or visit the Disability Research Network

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ParkLife Education Programme

Learning Outdoors

Belfast City Council commissioned SSESW academic Karen Kerr to undertake an evaluation of the schools' aspect of its ParkLife education programme.  Karen’s research background is in science education, assessment in science and outdoor learning.  She leads the OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) citizen science project at Queen’s, training teachers to deliver outdoor learning.  Her evaluation of ParkLife identified the programme as 'best in class'. 

ParkLife, run by the Council in conjunction with Ulster Wildlife, is an education programme which uses and promotes parks and open spaces across the city as a resource for outdoor learning.  It encourages children and their families to get outdoors and explore their local parks.  The ParkLife programme has three main elements: schools, Saturday Clubs and community groups.

The study by Karen Kerr found that, as a result of taking part in ParkLife:

  • more children visited their local park more often or took part in a wider range of outdoor activities;
  • more children expressed a closer connection to nature, and a sense of responsibility for the natural environment;
  • an increased number of children showed an interest in environmental sustainability and issues such as littering, animal welfare and pollution; and
  • more children were more positive about their energy levels, and felt that learning outdoors helped them pay better attention in school.

Commenting on the outcome of the evaluation, Karen Kerr said: 'As a result of the positive findings from this evaluation, it is apparent that learning outdoors in local parks through the ParkLife Education Programme is a very positive experience for children across all the primary and secondary outcomes measured'.

For more information email Dr Karen Kerr or tel +44(0)2890975945


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Staff Profile

Bronagh Byrne

Dr Bronagh Byrne is a Lecturer and Programme Director in Social Policy.  She is also Co-Director of our Centre for Children’s Rights and Co-Chair of the Disability Research Network at Queen’s.  Her research expertise is in the rights of children and young people with disabilities.  She tweets at @BronaghByrneQUB

Academia was never my anticipated career destination.  Following a first degree in Economics at Queen’s University, I decided to pursue a career path in the business arena. However, in light of what seemed like endless job applications and either not being shortlisted when I declared my disability, or being shortlisted when I did not declare, but not being offered the post, I decided it was time for change. While I reject the idea that being deaf makes me different from others, it has undoubtedly been an inextricable part of my journey.

My interest in research emerged during my time as a research assistant with the then Royal National Institute for Deaf People, examining issues such as educational transitions and what deaf people wanted from the Northern Ireland Assembly.  This spurred me to undertake a PhD at Queen’s University exploring the barriers to further and higher education for young deaf people and young people with visual impairments.  I became increasingly passionate about the rights of young people with disabilities and this found a home in the community and voluntary sector where I worked for three years as Research and Policy Officer for Disability Action’s Centre on Human Rights.  Lobbying the UK government to ratify the new United Nations treaty protecting and promoting the rights of people with disabilities, and participating in the first treaty Committee session at the UN in Geneva, was a real turning point in determining the research area I wanted to focus on.

I returned to Queen’s in 2009 as a Research Fellow on Children’s Rights, becoming a lecturer in social policy in 2012.  During this time I consolidated my human rights knowledge base by undertaking a Master’s degree in Human Rights Law.  Social policy is a vibrant, hugely relevant topic that impacts on all of us on a daily basis. This means keeping abreast of the latest policy developments in areas such as education, welfare reform, law, health, and the impact these have on the rights of children and young people and of people with disabilities.  I have carried out research on some of these issues for organisations such as Council of Europe, Unicef, Action on Hearing Loss, and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, to name a few, with the aim of making a difference to people’s lives.

Outside of academia I am a trustee of Action Deaf Youth and enjoy immersing myself in Scandinavian crime fiction.

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ARK surveys

Marking anniversaries

Many anniversaries are being marked in Northern Ireland in 2018, including the 20th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the 50th anniversary of the student protests and civil rights movements.  This year is also significant for ARK, Northern Ireland’s social policy hub co-hosted by the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University and Ulster University.  ARK is particularly known for its three annual attitudes surveys, providing robust and independent data on public opinion to key social and political issues which feed into policy and public debate.

In 1998, the first Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey took place, asking adults about issues such as community relations and politics.  We recognised that children and young people often lack a voice in the decisions directly affecting them, so we launched two further surveys.  The first, Young Life and Times (YLT), was launched in 2003 and explores the lives of 16 year olds.  In 2008, we ran the first Kids' Life and Times (KLT) which asks 10-11 year olds about their opinions.

So 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of NILT, the15th anniversary of YLT and 10 years since the first KLT!  Data from all three surveys are freely and publicly available, providing valuable snapshots of how the lives and attitudes of people of all ages in Northern Ireland have changed over time.

Our website ( provides access to all our survey data, as well as information about events and publications to mark these anniversaries. 

For more information email Dr Paula Devine or tel +44(0)2890973034


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International Collaboration

Norwegian University

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work academic Ruth Leitch spent time in April on a teaching and research visit to Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (WNUAS).  With 16,000 students, the University is the result of a recent merger of five campuses on the west coast and is one of the largest higher education institutions in Norway.

Ruth holds a part-time Professor II position at WNUAS that involves her making several visits a year where she contributes to Master’s teaching on qualitative research methods and mentors research groups.  She is joined in this endeavour by two other internationally recognised Professor II academics - Professor Anna Sfard (mathematics education: University of Haifa, Israel) and Professor Liora Bresler (music/arts-based research: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA).

Together, they are working with colleagues from the Stord campus at WNUAS and Karlstad University, Sweden, on a research application to the Norwegian Research Council that will aim to close the theory-practice gap. 

For more information on Ruth’s areas of teaching and research expertise, see

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Research Impact

Centre for Behaviour Analysis

The annual Seminar Series started with Catherine Storey outlining her work on reading ability for disadvantaged children, using the Headsprout programme.  Ger McCaddock (Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, Dublin) explained how a universal design approach can improve services, access and inclusion across education, government and industry.  Lucie Procházková (Masaryk University, Czech Republic) discussed the importance of employment for persons with disabilities. 

Two MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis students published research from their Master’s theses with their supervisor, Katerina Dounavi.  At the 12th ABAI Autism Conference in Miami, USA, Margaret Kirk presented their study on evidence-based behavioural strategies to improve the feeding habits of children with autism, while Emma Delemere published an article comparing parent-implemented bedtime fading and positive routines to support children with autism who have problematic sleep patterns.

A Multiplier Event took place in Łódz, Poland, organised by the Erasmus+ funded Job Coach for Persons with Disabilities project.  Tracey Steele and Briege McGillian attended on behalf of the Centre and enjoyed a week learning together with other job coaches from France, Netherlands, Poland, and Germany.


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Research Impact

Centre for Children's Rights

The Centre for Children’s Rights has developed five short videos which provide an introductory overview of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  The videos, nine minutes in total, are targeted at professionals.  They highlight: what the UNCRC is, and why it matters; where it came from; who rights-holders and duty-bearers are; what the UNCRC says; and how it is made ‘real’.

Laura Lundy was invited by the Taiwanese government to sit on an expert panel that reviewed Taiwan's compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Katrina Lloyd, Michelle Templeton, Laura Lundy and Bronagh Byrne presented their work at the 2018 bi-annual conference of the Children´s Rights European Academic Network (CREAN).

Laura Lundy gave an invited presentation at an international conference on ‘Measuring the Effectiveness of Children’s Rights’ in Belgium.

Laura Lundy is now Co-Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Children’s Rights.

We have continued to host a range of engaging speakers: Professor Jonathan Todres, Georgia State University, USA, presented on ‘Human Rights Discourses in Children’s Literature’; Professor Phil Jones, University College London, presented on children’s experiences and perspectives on disadvantage; and Professor Daniel Monk from Birkbeck College, University of London, spoke on the theme of ‘School Dress Codes’.

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Research Impact

Centre for Shared Education

In February, the Centre hosted Dr Dafna Yitzhaki from Tel Aviv University/Kibbutzim College, who is involved in research and development of shared education projects in Israel.  Dr Yitzhaki’s visit provided opportunities to share research and practice from Northern Ireland and Israel, develop future collaborative projects, and visit shared education initiatives in Fermanagh.

In February, Centre Director Joanne Hughes attended a UNESCO event at Queen’s University where UNESCO Chairs from across the UK and Ireland heard about Northern Ireland’s world-leading research on education, peacebuilding and human rights.  See more at UNESCO colloquium article above.

In March, Joanne Hughes was an invited participant at the Salzburg Global Seminar on Climate Change, Conflict, Health and Education.  This event brought together academics, development agencies and philanthropic organisations to consider how to address current priorities for research, policy and communications in these areas.

April saw the final meetings of the ESRC-funded Education in Divided Societies project in Sarajevo and Vukovar.  Led by the Centre for Shared Education, this project involves stakeholders from five countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Northern Ireland – in sharing learning and developing plans for shared education initiatives in each country.

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Research Impact

Disability Research Network

The Disability Research Network (DRN) is delighted to be involved in three grant awards in Northern Ireland as part of the DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, a £5 million scheme led by disabled people and funded by the Big Lottery Fund. 

In March, the DRN welcomed Professor Vicki Graf, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and Kristin Wright, the California State Director of Special Education. They took part in a round table discussion aimed at sharing knowledge and best practice on education for children with disabilities in both California and Northern Ireland.  In attendance were academics, school representatives, policymakers and representatives from NGOs working in the area.

Bronagh Byrne gave an invited presentation at Stormont Buildings in January, on the implications of the recommendations from UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities following its examination of the UK. Also in attendance was Coomaravel Pyaneandee, Vice Chair of the UN Committee.

Doctoral student David Jackson-Perry presented a paper entitled 'Challenging Behaviour? Autism, Sexuality, and the Mythical Norm' at the 3rd International Disability Studies Conference in Amsterdam.  David is also co-organising a conference at Birmingham University, entitled ‘Intimate Lives? Autism, Sex/uality, Gender and Identity’. 

Disability Research Network

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Staff Excellence

School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW) academic Alison MacKenzie (second left) was the recipient of a surprise award at this year’s Queen’s University Staff Excellence Awards.  The ICARE award (inspired by Queen’s Core Values: Integrity, Connected, Ambition, Respect and Excellence) was awarded to Alison as recognition of her ambassadorial embodiment of these values as a work colleague and as an inspiring leader of and advocate for her students.

Speaking of her award, a very shocked Alison acknowledged the warmth of feeling behind the nominations, adding: 'Words to express my gratitude and sense of humility elude me but I’m very, very honoured, and simply stunned, to receive this award.'

In addition to being Director of our Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Alison teaches on our Masters in Inclusion and Special Needs Education, where she applies philosophical approaches to understanding questions of social justice.

Head of the School of SSESW, Professor Carl Bagley, commented on Alison’s award on behalf of School colleagues: ‘I am absolutely delighted that Dr Alison MacKenzie was the recipient of the special ICARE Award at the Staff Excellence Awards.  It is always gratifying when a colleague, who many in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work know to professionally embody Queen's key core values, is given institutional-wide recognition of this kind.’

You can read more about Alison MacKenzie’s teaching, research and publications at

For more information email Dr Alison or tel +44(0)2890975930

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Celebrating and rewarding language learning

Our Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT) is funded by the Department of Education to enhance and support language teaching and learning in Northern Ireland. In February NICILT hosted a simulated trade fair for over 120 Key Stage 3 pupils of French.  The event, ‘Francofest’, was the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and entailed pupils from over 30 post-primary schools selling products or marketing a French-speaking town in French to their peers and independent judges. 

The event aimed to increase students’ confidence and motivation for French, highlight the usefulness of language skills in business today and foster closer relationships between schools, higher education and business.  The team from Bangor Academy (pictured) won the top prize for their trade stand which sold crêpes and chocolate cups and stemmed from their study of the poem, ‘Déjeuner du Matin’, by Prévert.

In February and March NICILT organised the Northern Ireland A-level Spanish, German and French Debates which were attended by over 200 pupils from 28 post-primary schools.  These competitions are supported by the Cercle Français de Belfast and the Spanish and German embassies in the UK and are especially designed to support AS and A2 language studies.  Pupils gain enhanced speaking and listening skills in their chosen language as well as social skills and public-speaking experience, which, in turn, improve their employability.

In March NICILT ran a continuing professional development event for principals of 20 post-primary schools.  The event was organised in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut London, the UK-German Connection and the German Embassy, London, and focused on how to support and sustain German in post-primary schools.  Principals gained insight into new initiatives and cross-curricular activities between schools and young people in the UK and Germany that can be introduced into their curricula.

For more information visit the NICILT Facebook page or website

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Staff Profile

Ian Collen

Ian Collen is a Lecturer in Education and convenes our Postgraduate Certificate in Education in Modern Languages.  He is also Director of the Northern Ireland Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (NICILT), funded by the Department of Education and based at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW).

I remember, aged 12, sitting in Miss Conn’s German class at Lurgan Junior High School and thinking to myself ‘I love languages and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life’. I believe passionately in the value of languages on the school curriculum and the opportunities afforded to young people through exposure to other cultures.

After a Master’s degree in French and German at the University of St Andrew’s in Scotland and a year teaching as a language assistant in Germany, I was appointed to a post as Teaching Fellow at the University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle.  I taught English language at all levels of the undergraduate degree programme.  Living in the centre of Paris was one of the most formative times of my life.  The wine wasn’t bad either!  I then moved back to Northern Ireland and completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at Queen’s University.  I did a Master of Teaching degree at Stranmillis whilst teaching full-time at Ballyclare High School.  I took up my lectureship at the School of SSESW at Queen’s in 2015.

I loved the classroom and people often ask me why I left school teaching.  I don’t see it that way.  I see myself as a school teacher who is interested in research and, through my roles in the School of SSESW, I have a wonderful opportunity to influence policy and practice for modern languages teaching in this part of the world.  Every day is different, from lecturing at Queen’s to visiting student teachers on placement in schools to attending and presenting at international conferences.  My PGCE Modern Languages students are excellent linguists with infectious enthusiasm, a real pleasure to work with, and I know that the future of language teaching is in good hands.

My research and scholarly activity focuses on languages education, teacher identity and early professional development.  I have, to date, received external funding to undertake research in primary to post-primary transition in languages and pupil leadership programmes in schools.

In my spare time I am learning Spanish, I enjoy travelling around Europe and I spend a lot of time entertaining Spencer, my German miniature Schnauzer!

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social impact

Responding to Injecting Drugs Use

An international seminar entitled ‘Responding to Injecting Drug Use Conference – an exploratory conversation’ was organised by our Drug and Alcohol Research Network (DARN), the Extern charity and the Belfast Drugs and Alcohol Coordination Team Connections Service (BDACT). The conference was hosted at Queen’s University in February and was created in response to the rise in injecting drug use occurring in public spaces and facilities in cities, including Belfast.

Featuring leading global experts, the event explored ways in which to manage and respond to the issue of public injecting.  Speakers included Professor Pat O’Hare of Liverpool John Moore’s University and Harm Reduction International (Chair) and Dr Magdalena Harris, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, both of whom have expert understanding and knowledge of the subject of drugs use. 

The keynote speaker was Professor Carl Hart (pictured) of Colombia University in New York.  His research focuses on the behavioural and neuro pharmacological effects of psychoactive drugs.  He is particularly interested in social and psychological factors which influence the self-administration of drugs.  He uses his research as a scientific basis for his worldwide presentations on the importance of decriminalizing drugs. 

Anne Campbell and Kathryn Higgins, co-directors for our Drugs and Alcohol Research Network, are currently working with the Extern Drug and Alcohol Consultancy Service to create a PGDip/Master’s in Substance Use Disorders.  Carl Hart is working with our academic team to create an international perspectives module and will contribute to online teaching as part of the new programme. The programme, which will utilise a blended learning approach, will be available to local national and international candidates who are interested in working with substance use.

For more information email Dr Anne Campbell or tel +44(0)2890975990

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Disseminating Expertise

CBA colleagues at Paris conference

A large contingent of staff and students from our Centre for Behaviour Analysis (CBA) attended the 9th conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International in Paris, France.  It was a great opportunity for them to catch up with our significant number of distance learning PhD and MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) international students and to outline the highlights of our courses to new potential students among the 500+ delegates.

Many of the Centre’s presentations and posters focussed on using applied behaviour analytic procedures to support children with autism and their families.  For example, research fellows and doctoral students reported on the use of technology in Ireland to help children with severe intellectual disabilities learn to read and, in Scotland, how to be safe around water.  They reported on methods to get non-verbal children in India to speak for the first time, as well as the application of behaviour analysis in China and a study carried out in Canada on the use of parent training to support toddlers. 

Our MScABA students presented their work on addressing public health concerns in France and on the use of Response Interruption and Redirection to reduce vocal and/or motor stereotypy and to enhance appropriate vocalizations as well as using behaviour analytic principles to toilet train children with autism. In addition, staff took part in a discussion about the use of behaviour analytic processes to support military veterans in the United States, particularly in Alaska, who experienced post-traumatic stress. 

The conference offered a great opportunity to showcase the international nature of the Centre’s research, Master’s courses and PhD programmes, and their continued significant real-life impact across the globe.  

For more information email Professor Karolla Dillenburger or tel +44(0)2890975985

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Shared Education

Jerusalem Principals' Visit to Northern Ireland

SSESW colleagues Tony Gallagher, Gavin Duffy and Gareth Robinson hosted a visit in March of Arab, Jewish and Orthodox Jewish principals from Jerusalem who visited Queen’s University and Northern Ireland schools to learn about the Shared Education model and its practical operation in schools.

Tony, Gavin and Gareth have been working with the Center for Education Technology (CET) in Tel Aviv for five years on school collaboration. During that period a number of school partnerships involving Jewish and Arab schools in Israel have been supported by CET, working with an adapted model of the Shared Education approach developed in Northern Ireland.  

For the past four years the SSESW colleagues have been working collaboratively with the Education Authority in Jerusalem to support school principals from Arab, Jewish and Orthodox Jewish schools who are interested in exploring opportunities for working together.

The visit in March was the third cohort of principals from Jerusalem who have taken part in a week-long visit to Northern Ireland to learn more about the Shared Education model and visit school partnerships to see Shared Education in practice.  They visited primary and post-primary schools in Derry/Londonderry, Limavady, Antrim and Ballynahinch.  They also had a tour of Belfast and of Queen’s University, and heard presentations from our Centre for Shared Education and the Education Authority.  Our Jerusalem visitors say they always draw inspiration from the example provided by principals, teachers and students in Northern Ireland and our local schools, in turn, find inspiration in this international interest in their work.

For more information email Dr Gavin  or tel +44(0)2890975260

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international students

New Ambassador Role

At a Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences event in February, a number of our international students were officially recognised as trained International Student Ambassadors.  They are Mohammad Naji Alyamani (Doctorate of Education: TESOL), Salwa Ahmed Khan Mohamed Akbar (MSc TESOL) and Rui Ma (TESOL), pictured above at the Faculty event.

There are 90 ambassadors across the University.  They are a very enthusiastic group of students who are all very positive about their experiences of studying at Queen’s and living in Northern Ireland. 

Welcoming the ambassadors to their new roles, Aisling O’Boyle, Acting Director of Internationalization noted: ‘We are incredibly fortunate in the School of SSESW to have a very active international student body who, alongside all our students, seek to make a social difference here in Northern Ireland and everywhere.  With their experience and expertise, our new International Student Ambassadors will be able to offer a real insight into life and study at Queen’s.’

The University’s ambassador programme involves working in varied roles to support and promote Queen’s University through activities such as leading campus tours, meeting agents, writing blogs and making videos.  The Student Ambassador role includes access to free professional development courses, networking opportunities for career planning and experiences that help students to develop transferable skills.  For many Student Ambassadors it brings opportunities to represent the international study body at significant University events.

Mohammad, from Saudi Arabia (back row, left), commented on his new role: ‘Being an International Ambassador for Queen’s University Belfast has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, such as being trained professionally and getting to know Queen’s staff members and colleagues from other Schools.  I am confident that such a programme will have a great reflection on both international students and the University in terms of internationalisation and promoting the University all over the globe.’

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making a difference

Connecting Local and Global Expertise

In addition to our wide ranging seminar series, (see SSESW colleagues lead important network activities in their respective fields, contributing to improving practice in local and global arenas.  The following are a sample of just a few events over recent months:

  • Ibrar Bhatt and Tess Maginess welcomed visitors to Queen's University for a fascinating Society for Research into Higher Education event entitled Digital University, Social Justice and the ‘public good’.

  • As the newly elected General Secretary of the International Society for Sociology of Religion, SSESW academic Veronique Altglas hosted their Council meeting at Queen's University, to plan the next international conference in Warsaw in 2019.
  • Our Trauma Research Network hosted a lecture with guest speakers from University College London.  Eamon McCrory presented on 'Childhood maltreatment, latent vulnerability and the shift to preventative psychiatry: Understanding the link between trauma and long-term mental health risk'.  Essi Viding presented on 'Maltreatment and conduct problems: What have we learned?'.
  • Gemma Carney gave a talk to retired workers at an Irish Congress of Trade Unions seminar in Dublin.  Co-authored with SSESW colleague Katy Hayward, ‘What is the impact of Brexit on Older People?’ was compiled under our ARK network’s remit to share social and political information.
  • Stephen Coulter and Suzanne Mooney facilitated a very successful training day with John Burnham for tutors, lecturers, recent alumni and current students in Systemic Psychotherapy, one of the major evidence-supported psychotherapeutic approaches recognised within the public health services.  John Burnham (Parkview Clinic, Birmingham Children’s Hospital) is internationally recognised as the progenitor of some of the most useful practice orientated frameworks for Systemic Practice.  His training course, entitled ‘Problems, Possibilities, Resources, and Restraints Framework for systemic practice’, involved a mixture of didactic teaching, small group work and whole group demonstration.  See for details on Systemic Practice courses.
  • Michael Duffy has been elected to the Board of Trustees for the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies, the accrediting body for our Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) programme.  Michael is a specialist in mental health linked to trauma and conflict and the development of evidence-based interventions.  Read more about Michael’s teaching and research at and find about our postgraduate CBT courses at
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 cover of the SSESW Winter 18_19 Newsletter

Winter 2018/19: PDF (1 MB)

  • UNCRC Day of General Discussion
  • Graduate Profile: Ryan Patterson
  • Supported Decision Making
  • New MSc in Higher Education
  • Research Centres/Networks Update
  • Engaging Students in Anti-Poverty Practice Framework
  • PGCE Partnership Schools
  • Staff Profiles: Laura Dunne and Shadd Maruna
 photograph of Lanyon building in the summer

Summer 2018: PDF (1MB)

  • Research on Protecting Children
  • Graduate Profile: Anna Savage
  • Innovative New Book
  • Disability Research Network projects
  • Learning Outdoors
  • Responding to Injecting Drug Use
  • Staff Profiles: Bronagh Byrne and Ian Collen
front cover of SSESW Winter newsletter showing the Lanyon in the snow.‌‌‌‌

Winter 2017/18: PDF (957KB)

  • New BA (Hons) Sociology for 2018 entry
  • Student Profile: Udi Samanhudi
  • Supporting Early Childhood Development in Timor-Leste
  • Mental Health in Schools
  • Research Impact
  • International Summer School
  • Staff Profiles: Sheila McConnellogue and John Moriarty
Front cover of the Education at Queen's Summer 2017 Newsletter

Summer 2017 pdf (566KB)

  • Education for Political Generosity
  • New BA (Hons) Sociology
  • Police Stop and Search Powers
  • Sharing Education International Connections
  • Staff Profile – Ibrar Bhatt
  • Student Profile – Rifka Fachrunnisa

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